|Seymour H. Knox III (Buffalo Sabres) |
From the onset, the Buffalo Sabres’ founding fathers wanted to be different.
With the NFL Bills and AHL Bisons already utilizing derivatives of the city’s namesake, management wanted a departure with the trend and hoped to come up with something truly original when naming Buffalo’s newest franchise.
In fact, it was preferred that the moniker of the hockey team be unlike that of any professional squad in any major North American sport.
With that in mind, the organization released a contest to its fans to not only generate ideas for a nickname, but create interest in the fledgling team as well.
They didn’t have to wait long for a response.
More than 13,000 entries were submitted, bearing more than 1,000 different names that weren’t already used by a team or stemming from the root of the word Buffalo.
From the serious to the silly the names poured in from contestants both right in Buffalo and as far away as Germany. The Flying Zeppelins, the Streaks, the Buzzing Bees, the Comets, Mugwumps and Herd were all eliminated one by one, until the Buffalo group found what they had been searching for.
The name ‘Sabres’ had been suggested by not one, but four different people and appealed to the owners. As public relations director Chuck Barr wrote in a press release, “a sabre is renowned as a clean, sharp, decisive and penetrating weapon on offense, as well as a strong parrying weapon on defense.”
It was a fitting term for the hockey club and embodied everything that it one day hoped to stand for.
With the nickname settled, an ensuing lottery was held to see which of the four fans would win the grand prize; a pair of season tickets to the team’s inaugural season.
The Mayor of Buffalo, Frank Sedita, was on-hand to determine the winner and drew the name of Robert Sonnelitter Jr. of Williamsville, NY as the individual who officially named the Buffalo Sabres.
From there the Knox brothers, Seymour and Norty, chose blue and gold for the uniform colors based on a polo club of which their father, Seymour H. Knox, belonged. The Sabres crest, bearing an emblem of two crossed swords behind a charging buffalo, would remain identical over the first 26 years.